The acting by its leads is also good. I loved James Remar in Sex and the City from long, long ago, and time has been good to him. His acting is still top-notch and elevates the performance of everyone around him. Watch the scene when he questions a young woman at an airplane hanger. Good acting elevates not-so-good acting. Also, since this is a teen romance, India Eisley and K.J. Apa make a lovely couple, and their instant attraction to one another works without being overly gushy or obvious.
Dead Reckoning also boasts two contrasting storylines, as mentioned before. The first is the terrorist plot to bomb a town celebration. The second is a teen romance between Tillie and Niko. Tillie is the orphan who drinks herself numb, and Niko is also an orphan (thanks to Tillie’s father) working hard to live the American dream. Niko’s work ethic proves that he’s a good and honorable man… perfect husband material. Niko makes a good impression on Aunt Jenny. Not so much, Uncle Marco, who is a terrorist. Add that Tillie’s godfather wants to kill him. It’s a weird storyline and different enough from other terrorists/teen romances movies to keep me engaged.
“…makes several attempts to rise above the pack, and in many ways, accomplishes that feat.”
There are a few missteps that standout. A kid who organized the opening campfire spoke with a horrible English accent as a joke, and it wears thin very fast. There’s also a bit of virtue signaling regarding his sexual orientation. Its mere mention is inconsequential to the plot, other than to signal “diversity.” No big deal, other than there’s got to be a better way of incorporating gay characters.
The FBI/terrorist rhetoric can be heavy-handed at times and feels like I’m watching wrestling promos. I get that it’s designed to establish the line between good and evil clearly, but the key here is subtlety. It realizes these lines have to be drawn, but the trick is not being so obvious about it.
Dead Reckoning is a fun action/thriller. It makes several attempts to rise above the pack, and in many ways, accomplishes that feat. But in the end, the movie stays within that realm of Friday-night flicks designed to let you unplug from the world and escape for ninety minutes.
"…the big effects and stunts look bigger than they are..."